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Cornwall: South West Coast Path: Hayle to St. Ives and Back - 10 miles - O/S Explorer 102

Easy going with plenty of places for an ale, tea, pasty, scone, fudge and fish and chips.


This walk actually starts at Lelant, just outside Hayle, because otherwise you have a mile or so of busy and boring road to trek along. But do stop at Hayle's South Quay first to explore Carnsew Pool and nature reserve first.

Philps, a bakery and, according to a taxi driver I spoke to on my last walk, the best pasty makers in Cornwall. is just across the road from the quay. I stopped to buy but, being early, the trad ones weren’t ready. They offered their ‘breakfast’ pasty instead. A combination of sausage, bacon, eggs and beans in pastry didn’t appeal but, in the interests of research, I bought one. I’m embarrassed to say it was disgustingly delicious (and when on another day I tried their traditional one, that was too, although I reserve the 'best' title for a little hut outlet on St.Mawes quay).


Driving out of Hayle along the B3301 toward Lelant, turn right into Saltings Reach, a new housing development. There’s a car park at the end by the coast path. You're off!

This brings you to the The Saltings, a pleasant country lane which turns into Green Lane, ending at a T junction. Turn right into Church Road and head to St Uny's Church in front of you. In 1572 a row erupted here between a couple and it's recorded that the husband called his poor wife a whore bitch, 'In English not in Cornowok'. Interesting because it confirms Cornish was the main language back then.


The church is where the lane turns to path. (I haven't included a schematic map because this is the well signposted South West Coast Path) You’re now heading toward and then alongside the beautiful and wide beaches of the Hayle estuary and mouth, through sand dunes with a golf course and rail line to your left. A wooded cliff walk follows but it’s still easy going for Cornwall. And then Carbis Bay appears.


An upmarket beach resort, Carbis Bay has plenty of facilities but rather than scarring, they enhance the beach area. Hire a boat or board, have a posh meal at the beach view restaurant or do as I did and get yourself a cup of tea at the beach cafe, settle down at a picnic table and enjoy watching people enjoying themselves. It was a glorious day (August) and although the smallish beach was busy, it was not overcrowded. My first taste of Carbis Bay and I was impressed.

Now a confession. I walk only as far as Carbis Bay and then back again because my partner wanted to do the leg to St.Ives with me. I also didn’t fancy St. Ives on a hot day in August. Too busy.


When we eventually completed the St. Ives leg, the weather was not so generous (hence the grey photos). Anyway, a short and pretty walk from Carbis Bay through woods brings you to Porthminster Beach. The tide was out so we took off along it and round a headland to St Ives proper.

Usually smothered (and I choose my words carefully) in tourists (I'm one too, so don't take it personally) I visit it rarely, but on this September day they’d mostly melted away in the drizzle. Now it could be seen for what it is: absolutely charming. St. Ives is a place to spend time and explore the beaches, the commercial art galleries—especially the serious ones in the backstreets—and the Tate Modern, the cafes and cosy ancient pubs, the headland with its small chapel and, of course, the lovely harbour. I even found but didn't linger on an austere granite row of terraces called Teetotal St. Instead I retired to the 14th century Sloop Inn by the harbour.

When you’ve sated yourself in one of the characterful old pubs or cafes, you might not fancy the trek back to Lelant. If so, head the short way back to Porthminster beach, and get the train back to Lelant Saltings. A lovely train journey along coast and estuary.